Slowly, she removed the polished wooden box that was tucked away on the shelf in her bedroom closet. Marks from her fingers were left in the thin layer of dust that had settled upon the box in the months since she last had it out.

Carefully, Avery removed a stack of envelopes which were neatly stacked within the box. Beginning with the envelope on top, she opened it up and began to read.

January 10, 2021

Dearest Granddaughter,

           Although you are still growing within your mother’s womb, I can feel you with me already. In my mind, I am holding you in my arms and listening to your soft breath as you sleep quietly against my chest.

           Sweet girl, you have no idea how much you are loved, or how much you will be loved when you finally decide to join us in the outside world.

           Please remember to treat your mother and father with as much love as they show you, and they will teach you about the wonders of this amazing planet we call Earth. Until we meet for the first time, I say goodbye.

           Love, Grandpa.

           Avery held the letter to her chest and closed her eyes, picturing her grandfather in her mind. She slid the letter back into the envelope and placed it facedown upon her bed, then, removing the second letter, she began to read it.

March 18, 2021

Dearest Avery,

Today was a big day for me. It was the day that I became a grandpa for the first time. You arrived in this world at 4:12 am, weighed seven pounds-one ounce, and measured at nineteen inches in length.

I swear my heart grew to twice its size when I heard the news. I can’t wait to see you and hold you for the first time. Unfortunately, due to this global pandemic called, COVID-19, it may not happen for quite some time. That doesn’t mean you can’t hear my voice. I will call you or Facetime you as soon as your mom and dad are feeling up to it.

There is so much I want you to experience, and there are so many new family members for you to meet one day. I am very excited for that day to come.

Your hair is thick like your mother’s was when she was born. Your mom was so cute, that all the nurses wanted a turn at holding her. I’m pretty sure the nurses felt the same way about you.

I have to let everyone know the good news about your arrival, so I will end this letter here, but I will send another soon. I love you, sweet Avery.

Love, Grandpa.

One-by-one, Avery read through the stack of letters, and with each one, she placed them faced down on the bed to keep them in chronological order.

           She reached a letter from two years later and read it slowly.

June 14, 2023

Dear, Avery,

You just turned two the other day, and I was so happy to be able to spend your day with you. You are turning into such a beautiful girl, your head full of blonde curls, and a mischievous grin upon your face at times. You remind me so much of your mom now.

           In the beginning, I thought you were going to resemble your dad more than your mom, but over the last year, you have changed substantially.

           For the last few months, you have been speaking quite a few words, but I have to admit, it is disheartening to know that you haven’t said “Grandpa” yet. I think sometimes that you hold back just because you know how much I want to hear it but practice it when nobody is around to hear it.

           At least I can still see you once-in-a-while, when your mom and dad don’t have you touring all over the province visiting new and exciting places. Now that the COVID virus has subsided for the most part, there is nothing keeping you from traveling wherever you want.

           You were even lucky enough to see Disneyworld last year, a place that I haven’t even seen in my long life. Did I ever tell you that Goofy was my hero? I never could understand why Mickey Mouse had a best friend that was a dog who could talk, AND a pet dog, named Pluto, who couldn’t talk.

           You have seen so much in the past year or so, and I am happy for you. I can see already that you are going to do very well in school. You are showing so much potential at this early stage in your life. I am amazed how well you know your animals and your colours already.

           I better get ready for work, so I will say goodbye for now. Talk to you soon.

           Love, Grandpa.

Each letter brought both tears and smiles to Avery’s face. She felt so much love for her grandpa but wasn’t sure if she told him that enough. The next letter she read was written around the time that she started kindergarten.

September 10, 2025

Dear, Avery,

           This is your first week in kindergarten. Your mom and dad told me that you were a little bit nervous because there were a lot of new people there that you didn’t know, but you do have your friend, T.J. to play with. Your mom says that T.J. is your boyfriend. Haha.

           I heard that you went to the zoo a couple weeks ago and saw some walruses with their big teeth and long whiskers. Did they remind you of Grandpa?

           Then, after that, I heard you went in a kayak with daddy out on the lake. I bet that was exciting for you! Grandpa loves going out in a kayak. It is so relaxing being out on the water. I might be getting older, but I still love doing things outdoors in nature.

           I should get you and your mom and dad to join me on one of my nature hikes one day. We can get close to a lot of birds, chipmunks, squirrels, racoons, and maybe even deer. I bet you would like it.

           Enjoy your new school, my beautiful granddaughter. I will write you again soon.

           Love, Grandpa.

           A full hour had passed, and Avery still had several to read, but she needed to take a break. After having a bite to eat and a walk around the block, she was ready to get back to the letters.

           December 26, 2029

           Dear, Avery,

           It is the day after Christmas, and I had a hard time trying to figure out what an eight-year-old girl was into these days when I was searching for a gift to buy. I hope you enjoyed the clothes that I bought you, and I hope that they fit! I am terrible at guessing sizes, and what I think looks cute, might not be cool anymore. I will understand if you don’t wear them.

           I got you that video game that you kept talking about too, so if the dress wasn’t a winner, maybe the game will be. I used to love video games when I was a kid, but they didn’t have games like this when I was your age. We didn’t have a lot of things that you have.

           There were not many computers in houses because they were very expensive when they first came out, and the games you played on them had terrible graphics. We did not have cell phones. All of our calls had to be made from home on a phone that had a cord attached to it, so you couldn’t leave the room, and your parents could overhear everything you talked about.

           With today’s technology, I am surprised that kids are able to learn much of anything without the help of a device. I am glad your mom is a teacher, and she is teaching you the “old school” way of education.

           I am getting tired, so I am going to end this. It seems like the older I get, the more naps I need to take. Enjoy your youth.

           Love, Grandpa.

           Letter after letter, Avery read with intent, absorbing each word on the pages, until she came to the most recent letter he had written.

July 24, 2040

           Dear Avery,

           I have a hard time writing these days, so I am typing out my letters on the computer instead and printing them off for you.

           My Arthritis has made my hands nearly crippled, and I am no longer able to work, so I have decided to retire. I probably should have retired a few years ago, and maybe my hands would not be this bad.

I won’t have the pension that I had hoped for, but maybe it will be enough for me to get by on. I just won’t be able to put away as much money for you and your younger brother, Connor like I planned to do.

I heard that you were accepted into teachers’ college. I am so proud of you, Avery. I’m glad you are following in your mother’s footsteps. It is difficult to get anywhere these days without a reliable career to fall back on. I only wish I learned that lesson when I was your age.

My official retirement date will be November 1, 2040. After that, maybe we can meet for lunch on days when you have time to spare. I would really like to see you again. It seems like years since we last got together. I know you are busy with school, though, so I understand.

Avery neatly stacked the envelopes back into the wooden box and closed the lid. She then picked up another envelope that was sitting on her nightstand and opened it up.

Inside, was a letter from her grandfather’s attorney. As she read it, tears began to fall upon the pages.

The letter stated that after her grandfather had passed away, he had asked that she was present during the reading of his Last Will and Testament.

Her grandpa had died just three days before he was expected to retire. The doctors said that he had a massive coronary and died instantly. In one way, Avery was glad he did not have to suffer in pain for long, but at the same time, she felt an emptiness in her life.

In the last two years, she had only been able to get together with her grandfather two-or three-times during holidays, and she felt terrible knowing that they had drifted apart. Regardless of her lack of contact with him, her grandpa always made a point of sending her letters as he always had since before she was born.

In her heart, she did not care if her grandpa left her any kind of money, because the most valuable thing he could have left her, was the love that filled the pages of each of his letters.

August 18, 2023 21:56

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